New Oregon Health Plan guidelines for the treatment of back pain will take effect July 1, the Oregon Health Authority announced Monday.
The guidelines mean that OHP, the state’s Medicaid program, will cover chiropractic manipulation, acupuncture and physical therapy for all types of back conditions. Currently only OHP members with evidence of nerve damage can access treatment other than long-term opiate drug prescriptions or surgery.
The guidelines were approved last year to take effect Jan. 1, but the Oregon Health Authority put off implementation for an indefinite period.
The Health Evidence Review Commission, which decides OHP coverage priorities, began looking at alternative treatments for back pain as a way to cut down on costly surgeries and opiate prescription dependence. About 8 percent of OHP members saw a health care provider for back conditions in 2013, and more than half of those people received narcotic drug prescriptions, many of which lasted several months, according to the state.
The Oregon Health Plan in 2014 spent $9.5 million on back pain-related surgery and $4.3 million on opioid prescriptions. An estimate of treatment costs under the new guidelines was not available.